|Danny Ainge: Avery Bradley ‘is a big part of our future’ as Celtics extend qualifying offer||06.30.14 at 4:17 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Danny Ainge doesn’t want Avery Bradley going anywhere.
Whether that means Monday’s qualifying offer from Ainge to the fourth-year NBA guard is enough to make Bradley a permanent fixture in Boston remains to be seen.
On Monday, the Celtics offered Bradley a qualifying offer worth an estimated $3.6 million as they try to retain his rights in Boston. The move itself, without any agreement on a long-term deal, makes Bradley a restricted free agent. The bigger benefit of Monday’s offer is the ability of the Celtics to match any offer made to the 23-year-old defensive shutdown guard.
Before the 2013-14 season, Bradley reportedly turned down a four-year, $24 million contract extension from the Celtics as he anticipated his shot at restricted free agency this summer. Bradley, who played only 60 games due to various injuries, averaged a career-high 14.9 points per game while shooting 44 percent from the field.
The real cost of Boston’s offer Monday is the so-called “cap hold.” Ainge and the Celtics will have to set aside 250 percent of Bradley’s previous salary or approximately $6.3 million.
“It would mean a lot,” Ainge said Monday of keeping Bradley in the fold. “I think Avery can be a very key player in us winning the championship. He does things that other players can’t do. And his shooting continues to improve and we have all seen in the past his terrific defensive abilities. I think Avery is a big part of this.
“Avery is a big part of our future. You obviously need three guards that are going to play significant minutes. We also think Marcus can play with Phil Pressey. Phil can play with Rondo and Phil can play with Avery. I think that because of the versatility of Rondo and Marcus, that probably allows that versatility. Listen, there are a lot of guys in our league that are small forwards, especially bench small forwards that are 6-5, guys are that are basically wing players that are ’2′ guards. I think there’s a time and a place in a game where you could see three guards that could be playing. I see those guys being able to playing very well together and compliment each other.”
Hours earlier, speaking at his own skills academy at UMass-Boston, Bradley did nothing to dispel the notion that he wants to return to the Celtics long-term.
“I haven’t been worried about [free agency],” said Bradley. “I’ve been worried about getting better. I try not to think about anything I can’t control. All I can do is continue to try to get better every single day, and I know everything else will work out.
“We really haven’t [discussed] any numbers or anything. Obviously, I want to be here. And I let those guy know that. When the time comes, we’ll just see what happens, and see if we come to an agreement.”
|Celtics extend qualifying offer to Avery Bradley||06.29.14 at 8:50 am ET|
With free agency looming on July 1, the move was inevitable, allowing the Celtics to match any offer Bradley receives on the market this summer.
During a press conference regarding first-round draft picks Marcus Smart and James Young, Ainge appeared confident the Celtics will bring back Bradley. Reports have indicated he could command between $7-9 million as a restricted free agent, and the limited crop of available shooting guards makes it more likely he could end up earning the higher end of that estimate.
After earning Second Team All-Defensive honors in 2012-13, Bradley made significant improvements offensively this past season, averaging 15 points and shooting 40 percent from 3-point range. However, the added offensive load left him off the All-Defensive roster, and he missed significant time for a second straight season due to injury. Still, losing Bradley would be a serious blow to the Celtics this summer. Still only 23 years old, he has All-Star potential and the work ethic to reach it.
|2014 NBA free agent shooting guards available to Celtics||06.28.14 at 9:58 am ET|
With NBA free agency opening Tuesday, we continue our annual examination of the options available to the Celtics at each position. Today’s focus: Shooting guards. Unlike recent seasons, C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is expected to have more flexibility than any summer since 2007 when the league’s moratorium on free agent signings is lifted and the salary cap (an estimated $63.2 million) is officially set on July 10.
The Celtics have eight players under guaranteed contracts in 2014-15 for $48.5 million (Rajon Rondo $12.9M; Gerald Wallace $10.1M; Jeff Green $9.2M; Brandon Bass $6.9M; Joel Anthony $3.8M; Vitor Faverani $2.1M; Kelly Olynyk $2.1M; Jared Sullinger $1.4M) as well as $4.1 million in cap holds for first-round picks Marcus Smart and James Young. Pending decisions on or by Kris Humphries, Avery Bradley and Jerryd Bayless, the C’s could have as much as $10 million in cap space — or more if they use the stretch provision on Wallace.
Given Bradley’s unrestricted free agency and potential to command as much as $9 million annually, the Celtics face a difficult decision with no reliable shooting guard on the roster and limited options to upgrade the position through free agency. Ainge sounded optimistic about the possibility of re-signing Bradley when discussing the potential of a Rondo-Smart-Bradley guard rotation after the draft, but he’ll still need to bolster that corps in the coming months.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at their options, separating the current free agents into three categories.
|Brad Stevens on rebuilding with Marcus Smart and James Young: ‘I don’t want to sell our team short’||06.27.14 at 12:57 pm ET|
Rebuilding is a four-letter word to Brad Stevens.
More to the point, it’s something the second-year coach of the Celtics doesn’t have time to consider. Let Danny Ainge be concerned about the semantics of “putting young pieces in place” or “restructuring the roster.” For Stevens, his focus is on the here and now and near-future.
He made that much perfectly clear when asked if adding 20-year-old Marcus Smart and 18-year-old James Young to the roster Thursday night meant that he was entering the second year of a rebuilding program.
“That’s going to have to be a question for all of you and maybe pose that question to management or pose that question to people who aren’t coaching,” Stevens said. “At the end of the day, when you’re a coach and you’re in the midst of it, you’re trying to win every game and you’re trying to win the next game. You don’t look at anything as rebuilding. You look at it as the next opportunity. As long as you can prepare and strive and do your best, it’s hard for me to say that because I don’t want to sell our team short.”
Stevens is excited about this much — he’s getting two young talents that know how to create their own shot, something that was missing last season in the 25-win campaign.
“The only thing I would say that we were at least discussing coming into play with the second pick was perimeter scoring,” Stevens said, referring to the selection of Young at No. 17. “I guess the current roster construction you might say that played a role in that. But at the end of the day, we wanted to take the best players available, that we thought were the best players available for us.
“I feel a lot better standing here today than I did on July 4 last year, with how I feel heading into things, how much more comfortable I am understanding the schedule of the NBA, the way to get the most out of our team as we move forward, the way to get the most out of our individuals. We’ll have a lot of guys back that have been a part of this and understand how we want to do things. I think we’re adding two good workers. I think we’re adding two guys that will be hungry to help and I think that’s all a positive. Can I predict how many wins that creates? I can’t predict that. I think we’ll be a lot more prepared from the standpoint of the big picture, both on the court and in our preseason and everything else than I would’ve felt last year at this time.”
|Irish Coffee: Rajon Rondo, Don Draper, Kevin Love sales pitches||06.03.14 at 11:58 am ET|
When asked about his conversation with Timberwolves star Kevin Love at Fenway Park over the weekend, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo responded in typical Rondo fashion during an impromptu session with the Boston media as the C’s worked out a number of potential draft prospects in Waltham on Monday.
“I talked to Kevin for about 39 seconds,” said Rondo. “It wasn’t too long. We didn’t talk a lot.”
A lot can be said in 39 seconds. For example, “I love it here, and if you come to Boston, we’d instantly be a playoff team in the East. Danny Ainge knows how to build a championship team around All-Stars, so let’s do this.” That took less than 10 seconds. They could’ve still chatted about the weather and some restaurant recommendations.
“A pitch?” Rondo told reporters. “No, I think the only pitches that were thrown were by Jon Lester. He threw out a couple pitches. I didn’t pitch anything. I just told him to enjoy his time here.”
Not exactly a page out of Jordan Belfort‘s book. Rondo’s going to need to watch “Wolf of Wall Street” again.
“I trust a lot in Danny,” Rondo added. “He’s turned this thing around before, so I don’t not have any faith in Danny. I believe in Danny. I think we do need another big-time player, but that’s all his job. He’s working on that now.”
I don’t not have any faith in Danny. A ringing endorsement! A little more Gordon Gekko this time.
|Celtics tie franchise record with 13th straight road loss||04.09.14 at 10:15 pm ET|
The Celtics continued their losing ways, dropping their ninth straight game, losing to the Hawks, 105-97, Wednesday night in Atlanta.
The defeat was also the Celts’ 13th straight road loss, tying a franchise record originally set in 1979. The C’s only two road wins over their last 15 games away from TD Garden came against the NBA’s two worst teams, Philadelphia and Milwaukee.
The Celtics are now tied with Orlando for the third-worst record in the NBA, standing at 23-55. They have four games remaining, playing the Bobcats and Wizards at home, with road games against Cleveland and the Sixers.
Milwaukee owns the NBA’s worst mark at 14-63, while Philly stands at 17-61. Utah (24-54) and the Lakers (25-53) are right behind Boston and Orlando.
Doing in the Celtics against the Hawks — who are clinging to the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference — was a fourth quarter in which the C’s were outscored 35-20.
|Fast Break: Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley too cool for LeBron James-less Heat||03.19.14 at 9:51 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo scored just nine points, but he was the best player on the floor all night, taking over the fourth quarter in a 101-96 victory against the two-time defending NBA champion Heat. Of course, it didn’t hurt that LeBron James (back spasms) was relegated to the Miami bench, but still — this was Rondo’s night.
The Celtics point guard finished one point shy of a triple-double (15 assists, 10 rebounds), ending a five-game losing streak. Avery Bradley‘s 23 points, including a career-high six 3-pointers, led the scoring effort, and four other Celtics reached double figures: Brandon Bass (18 points), Jared Sullinger (14 points), Jeff Green (13 points) and Kelly Olynyk (10 points). And the Celtics needed all of it from each of them.
The Celtics improved to 23-46, moving one win ahead of the Lakers and Suns for the NBA’s seventh-worst record.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Bradley’s back: After making just six of his 25 attempts from outside of 10 feet in his first three games back from an ankle injury, Bradley found the stroke that made him so successful early this season. The soon-to-be free agent knocked down three of his six first-half 3-point attempts and added a long jumper to enter the break with 11 points. In all, the C’s shot 50 percent (9-18) from distance over the first two quarters and stayed within 56-53 after two.
Charmed third: Working inside and out, Bradley and Brandon Bass shot a combined 8-of-8 from the field to score 21 of the C’s 27 third-quarter points. Rondo was on the feeding end of four of those buckets, finishing with six assists in the frame. As a result, the Celtics took an 80-78 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Bench press: The C’s bench situation isn’t pretty. It’s comprised of four guys who weren’t on the team to start the season, two rookies and another player with 45 NBA games under his belt entering the year. Yet, they received valuable contributions from three of those seven players, as Sullinger, Olynyk and Jerryd Bayless (7 points, 5 assists) combined for 28 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Worst first: The opening quarter couldn’t have gone much worse for the Celtics defense. While the NBA’s two-time defending MVP sat on the bench, the Heat still scored 34 points on 70 percent shooting to take a 12-point lead in the game’s initial 12 minutes. It wasn’t Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh who victimized the C’s, but Udonis Haslem. The Miami veteran scored 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting in the first quarter.
No LeBron: The Heat announced James would miss his first game in a month shortly before tipoff. It remains to be seen whether he’ll return Friday in Miami, but regardless of how they feel about him, Boston fans missed a player worth the price of admission. Perhaps a motivated Celtics team took it as a sign of disrespect, too.